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Compare and contrast the ways in which relationships are presented in the poems My Last Duchess(TM) and The Laboratory(TM)

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Compare and contrast the ways in which relationships are presented in the poems 'My Last Duchess' and 'The Laboratory' Both of the poems involve men and women having conflict and problems in their relationship and the extreme actions they take. 'My Last Duchess' is a poem about an arrogant Duke who is determined to make a better choice for his second wife. He is trying to hide his past by covering a painting of his Last Duchess, who was young, attractive and flirtatious. However even though the age difference the Duke could still have expected the relationship to be successful as this type of marriage was not unusual in the nineteenth century. The Duke is portrayed as being extremely discomfited by the expression on his wife's face as the artist painted her. This look on his wife's face is key to understanding the thoughts and feelings of the Duke. He makes it clear to the Count's messenger the kind of wife he wants, and the consequences if she turns out not to live up to his standards. Robert Browning's second poem set in the eighteenth century is 'The Laboratory and also in the same period of the Ancien Regime which explains the way some of the characters behave. Like 'The Last Duchess' this poem includes lots of sleaze and scandal with strong and powerful members of society. ...read more.


We are in sighted into the Dukes heritage 'As if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name with anybody's gift.' This demonstrates the Duke's awareness of own status, and anger at his wife's lack of awareness of it. It is clear that he is proud of his heritage and would not lower himself for her. The Duchess created the element of distrust that was bestowed into the marriage; because of her traits the relationship will no longer work. Her lack of appreciation of her position angers the Duke to end the relationship. However it cannot all be blamed on the Duchess. The Duke was a ruthless man 'laying down commandments' it is seen as an extremely strict relationship possibly too much so for the young girl to understand and be a part of. His continuous insecurity and jealousy affect the relationship at a great amount also. Both 'The Laboratory' and 'My Last Duchess' are of anger and resentment, after feeling pain through love or lack of. In 'The Laboratory' it is the discarded mistress who is jealous about other women flirting and dancing with the King, and in 'My Last Duchess' it is of the Duke, who shows annoyance in the way the his last Duchess conducted herself with other men. Both of the poems involve wealthy people driven to kill because of their envy. ...read more.


I feel 'The Laboratory' is a more unpleasant poem as it talks more about the excessive punishment and revenge the narrator is taking. We are shown more how the mistress is killed in 'The Laboratory' and revealed the poisons used to kill her. Browning uses great description in illustrating the poisons and by going into such detail it highlights the pleasure the speaker is taking watching the poisons being made. In 'My Last Duchess' the Duke does not go into as much detail to how she Is killed and does not make it at all clear at first to how she was killed, we assume she was poisoned. This kind of 'gruesome' poetry was unusual for the time and concerned Victorian values. Browning may presented his characters in this way to be set aside from the usual poets of the time and try and introduce a new kind of poetry that didn't just talk about happy relationships and undying love. The poems are both in dramatic monologue because the narrators are revealing their personal feelings throughout the poem to the reader. They both include high members of society talking about taking revenge on a lover or ex-lover. The poem I preferred was 'My Last Duchess'. I enjoyed this one the most because you get a clear image of the characters involved. I also enjoyed the rhyme scheme as it flowed well with continuous enjambement. Eleanor Failes English Coursework 7096 ...read more.

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